Roman winter, near the Spanish Steps.
Donít think of Italy as only a summer destination. There are plenty of things to do and to see during the Italian spring, fall, and even winter. This series of articles provides ideas for your Italian winter vacation, describing regional spectacles, tourist attractions, and special events, and sometimes skiing and other winter sports. Italian winter holidays have several advantages: You wonít fight the crowds, hotels and other accommodations are easier and cheaper to find, and every region has its own winter festivals. When we say winter, we mean November to February; spring comes early in Italy. Donít look here for information about Italyís marvelous Carnivale; we are planning a separate series covering regional Carnivale celebrations. Talk about planning; start organizing your Italian winter holidays now. Keep reading.
Latium is on the Tyrrhenian coast of central Italy. Its capital is Rome, the capital of Italy, and, and, and. I said it before, Iíll say it again. Or more precisely, I quoted before, and Iíll quote again (because I did not coin this phrase) Roma, non basta una vita. Rome, one lifetime is not enough. I just read that you can expect four hours of sunshine a day in the Roman winter. Maybe. But youíre in Rome. Romaeuropa Festival is Rome's big festival of theater, music, and dance held in venues throughout Rome for more than a month starting in early November. This is Italyís top contemporary art festival, and one of the major European art festivals. It includes dozens and dozens of shows, many of which are national premieres.
Greccio, perhaps home to the first Nativity Scene.
The Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 is an Italian national holiday. There are celebrations throughout Italy and churches hold special masses. You'll find parades, feasts, and music in here, there, and almost everywhere. Rome celebrates with floral wreaths and a ceremony at the Spanish Steps presided over by the Pope. Although government offices and banks are closed, many stores stay open for holiday shopping.
Latium is home to a large number and wide variety of Living Nativity Scenes. The town of Greccio presents an unusual one: the Re-enactment Of St. Francis Building The First Nativity Scene (Christmas Eve). St. Francis of Assisi is said to have started things off by building a nativity scene out of straw in a Greccio cave in 1223. Some of the largest and most elaborate Roman Nativity Scenes are found in found in Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Euclide, Santa Maria in Trastevere, Santa Maria d'Aracoeli on the Capitoline Hill, and in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican City. You may want to attend the midnight mass on Christmas Eve followed by the Popeís blessing on Christmas Day. The Church of Saints Cosma e Damiano, by the main entrance to the Roman Forum, displays a large nativity scene from Naples all year round. Other towns hosting nativity scenes include Bassano, Vetralla, and Chia whose offering on December 26 includes more than 500 participants.
Rome's traditional New Year's Eve celebrations are centered in Piazza del Popolo (Square of the People). Huge crowds celebrate with rock and classical music, dancing, and fireworks. The celebration continues New Year's Day with festivities for the children. Or you may prefer a classical music concert outdoors on the square in front of the Quirinale off Via Nazionale around 11:00 followed by fireworks at midnight.
In Vatican City, following another Epiphany (January 6) tradition, hundreds of people dressed in medieval costumes promenade along the wide avenue leading up to the Vatican, carrying symbolic gifts for the Pope. The Pope says a morning mass in St Peter's Basilica to commemorate the Wise Men visit bearing gifts for Jesus. The town of Velletri celebrates the Festival of St. Anthony Historical Parade and Jousting Tournament in January. At the beginning of February, the hilltop town of Fiuggi honors Saint Biagio by bringing tree trunks in from the forest and lighting them in the main square. That seems to be it for Latium February festivals, except for Carnivale to be covered in another article. And yet, in spite of the weather which may not be the best, I somehow think that you can manage to enjoy yourself in Rome in February. And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine Latium or other Italian wines.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website www.travelitalytravel.com devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website www.theworldwidewine.com with weekly reviews of $10 wine and columns devoted to various aspects of wine including wine and food, humor, trivia, organic and kosher wine and lots more.
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Winter events, spectacles, and tourist attractions in Latium, Italy